|(Q) I'm wanting to make your Sage Derby cheese… are there any botulism concerns with using fresh herbs/spinach inside the cheese?|
(A) You definitely want to choose very fresh healthy ingredients and wash well, then blanch before using.
|(Q) I just made my first cheese - farmhouse cheddar. Everything worked great, and my mold overflowed with curds. However, I tried in vain for several hours to make ricotta from the good amount of whey that I produced.|
I carefully heated the whey and watched the temperature religiously right up into the 195-200°F range and held it there, but I never saw more than very tiny little curds precipitate. In desperation, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice, to no avail.
(A) Ricotta is comprised of different proteins from the cheese curds. They are released from the whey due to heating.
Those little bits moving out around the rim ARE your ricotta trying to form. Adding the lemon juice defeated them and the hard little bits you collected were the result. In general, ricotta needs a sweet whey and adding the lemon juice probably made things too acidic.
Patience is important here because it will take about 20 minutes, when at temperature, for them to unite and float to the surface where you can scoop the mass off. Adding more acid and stirring a bit too much will defeat the process.
|(Q) If I put lipase powder in a farmhouse cheese, would it make it sharper so I would not have to age it so long?|
(A) The sharpness from a cheddar is mostly from protein breakdown (protease), whereas, lipase is an enzyme that focuses on changing the lipids or fat in cheese.
So, no, lipase in cheddar will not give you an early aging cheese. This is not to say that there is no natural lipase working in cheddar, but the dominance is the protease activity.
|(Q) I'm just starting to make aged cheeses and I'm wondering what you think of acidity testing vs pH testing? |
(A) PH and acid titration measure distinctly different elements in the milk whey or cheese. You will find both measures mixed among cheese making books.
We measure the titration of the milk while it ripens until adding the rennet. This is because there is very little acid produced and the titratable acidity will show a greater change. If you were to try to measure this with a pH meter, you might only find a half-point change.
Once the process is underway and a greater amount of acid is being produced, the pH meter seems to be the most convenient tool.
However, in the final stages when the cheese is in the more solid curd stage, it is difficult to read the pH because the meters work best in a liquid. We then collect a bit of the whey running from the cheese and measure that.
One note: The best cheese makers can tell just by tasting and observing the texture. Remember, the tools we use are not that old compared to the history of cheese.
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